Cougars Host Rebels
A difficult month of February continues for the Cougars who for the second time this month are looking to avoid a three-game losing streak. Last weekend the Cats dropped games in regulation to both Kelowna (5-2) and Kamloops (3-0) and are now just two points ahead of Kamloops for the B.C. Division lead with 11 games remaining in their regular season. The good news: Despite a 2017 that has some times been bumpy the Cougars STILL through 61 games have yet to lose more than twice in a row all season. They’ll look to keep that streak alive tonight when they face a Red Deer Rebels club that has endured their fair share of struggles in recent weeks as well.
RED DEER REBELS
Road Record: 8-17-2-4
Last Game: A 4-3 shootout loss Saturday in Vancouver
Goals For/Goals Against: 190 GF/225 GA
Power Play: 19.4% (14th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 75.9% (18th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Michael Spacek (50GP – 25G – 45A – 70PTS), Brandon Hagel (53GP – 22G – 31A – 53PTS), Evan Polei (57GP – 26G – 23A – 49PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Michael Spacek: The Winnipeg Jets prospect leads the Rebels with 70 points this season and also leads all Rebels in scoring against the Cougars with a goal and four assists in two games.
Evan Polei: In two games against the Cougars this season, the big rugged forward has three goals an assist for four points. This season the 20-year-old has secured 26 goals while adding 23 assists for 49 points. He’s a handful, and has played two stellar games this season against the Cougars already.
WHO’S ON D:
Colton Bobyk: The 20-year-old logs mega minutes for the Red Deer Rebels and tonight’s game should be no exception. He leads all Rebels blueliners with 44 points in 59 games. He’s also their power play quarterback and can wire the puck with the best of them.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Lasse Petersen: The 19-year-old is 2-0 against the Cougars this season with a 1.50 goals-against-average and a .946 goals-against-average and that could be enough to warrant a third look at the Cougars this season. He’s 12-14-4-0 for Red Deer this season and has played two fewer games than his younger counterpart Riley Lamb.
Energy: The Rebels have been on the road for nine days now and are winless so far in their travels having dropped eight straight games. Their last victory took place on February 3rd in Prince Albert and their most recent previous victory before that was at home against the Cougars on January 27th. This team is reeling and are desperate to snap out of their losing streak before they head home. They’re going to leave it all out there tonight.
PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS
Home Record: 18-10-1-1
Last Game: A 3-0 loss Sunday in Kamloops
Goals For/Goals Against: 209 GF/173 GA
Power Play: 16.0% (20th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 84.1% (2nd in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Nikita Popugaev (60GP – 25G – 35A – 60PTS), Jansen Harkins (53GP – 18G – 42A – 60PTS), Brad Morrison (59GP – 21G – 30A – 51PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Jesse Gabrielle: On most nights Gabrielle is the one who can ignite the crowd with a big hit, a timely goal or a crafty play with the puck. Coming into tonight’s game Gabrielle has 26 goals and 22 assists for 48 points and is a +9. When Gabrielle is at his best, there are few (if any) players in the WHL who can match his skill-set.
Brad Morrison: It’s an important home stand for all veteran forwards, and Brad Morrison is no exception. The New York Rangers prospect has 21 goals for the season and is due to break out offensively. He’s had good looks in each of his past two games, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts lighting the lamp.
WHO’S ON D:
Josh Anderson: In each of the first two matchups with Red Deer this season the Rebels were able to use their size and their physicality to their advantage. Tonight it’ll be important for Josh Anderson to set the tone physically for the Cougars. He’s very quietly played some strong hockey in 2017 for the Cougars and while he’ll never wow you offensively, he’s got the tools to be a very dominant defender in this league. Defensively to a man the Cougars need to be better and look for Anderson to play a big part in that.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Ty Edmonds?: Richard Matvichuk hasn’t revealed his start yet, but Ty Edmonds could very well be in line for his second straight start. There weren’t too many positives Sunday in Kamloops, save and except for Edmonds who made 39 saves on 42 shots faced and gave his team a chance. That might work in his favor tonight as the Cougars look to get back into the win column at home.
Positivity: Highs and lows are inevitable over the course of a long season and it’s no secret that things haven’t gone as smoothly lately for the Cougars compared to earlier in the season. But with that all said the Cougars are still in first place and still have a lot going for them as they begin their three game home stand. It’s important for the Cougars to maintain some composure, draw on their experience and come out tonight with a solid, disciplined and united effort.